To use a vaginal ring, start by choosing the position for inserting that is most comfortable to you (this could be standing with one leg up, squatting, or lying down). You can then remove the vaginal ring from its wrapper, holding the ring between your thumb and index finger, press the opposite sides together and insert the ring into the vagina. You can find out more information on how to insert it here .
Does the contraceptive vaginal ring help acne?
The vaginal ring contains both oestrogen and progestogen and can improve acne in some women. Most women who take combined contraception see an improvement in their acne although it can worsen initially. However it's not a one-size-fits-all solution.
How long does the vaginal ring stay in the vagina?
The vaginal ring stays inside your vagina for 3 weeks (21 days) at a time.
Can the vaginal ring cause dryness?
Some women report vaginal dryness whilst using the vaginal ring. Changes in vaginal 'wetness' are a well reported side effect of combined hormonal contraception, but research on this is often conflicting or inconclusive. It's also worth noting that vaginal discharge fluctuates anyway during the menstrual cycle. If vaginal dryness, discharge or itching becomes a problem (i.e. it's painful or uncomfortable or affecting sexual intercourse), it's worth speaking to your GP or practice nurse.
Can the vaginal ring affect my mood?
Hormonal methods of contraception may affect your mood. However there are several factors that influence this such as your age, medical history and contraceptive history, as well as what else may be going on in your life. Sadly there's a lot of contradictory evidence out there on this topic, and much more research is needed. You can find more information on what our community reports as side effects from the vaginal ring, or check out our guide to contraception and mood.
How the Vaginal ring works:
The vaginal contraceptive ring is a small soft plastic ring that you place inside your vagina for 3 weeks (21 days) at a time. It releases the hormones oestrogen and progestoge into the bloodstream. It prevents pregnancy in three ways – by stopping ovulation, making the fluid in your cervix thicker (which makes it more difficult for sperm to enter the womb), and preventing the lining of your womb thickening enough for a fertilised egg to implant into it.
How to use the Vaginal ring:
When inserting a vaginal ring, make sure you have just washed your hands and then squeeze the first ring between your thumb and forefinger and gently insert the tip into your vagina. You should push it into your vagina so it feels comfortable - it should be far enough inside you so that you don't feel it, towards your cervix, like a tampon.
After 21 days, you remove the vaginal ring and have a 7 day ring-free break. In this break you may have a withdrawal bleed (like a period). You then put in a new ring for another 21 days. You may wish to shorten the break between taking your ring out and starting a new one, or have no break at all to avoid a withdrawal bleed. For more information on the vaginal ring, you might like to take a look at our comprehensive guide.
Coming off the vaginal ring is easy - you just stop using it. When you do this you’re no longer protected from pregnancy. If you want to stop using the ring but do not wish to become pregnant then you should consider switching to another form of contraception before you stop. If you have unprotected sex and stop the ring before you have used it for 21 consecutive days you may ovulate (release an egg from the ovary) and could become pregnant.
How safe is the Vaginal ring:
The vaginal ring is a safe form of contraception. However, like with all combined hormonal methods containing oestrogen there is a small risk of developing blood clots in your veins and arteries. It may also increase your blood pressure. Your doctor will check your individual risk before prescribing the ring to you. Use of the ring is also associated with small increased risks of breast cancer and cervical cancer. These reduce with time after stopping. It's also important to remember that vaginal ring does not protect you from STIs.